Union members at both institutions are set to take part in strike action which will begin on Thursday, February 20, and escalate each week to culminate in a week-long walkout between Monday, March 9, and Friday, March 13.
They were among staff at 60 universities across the country who walked out for eight days of strikes before Christmas and will be joined by staff at another 14 institutions for the strikes in February, as more UCU branches crossed a 50 per cent turnout threshold required by law for them to take part in industrial action.
Those at the University of Sheffield will join staff from 46 other universities to strike over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) – a private pension scheme for universities and other higher education institutions across the UK – as well as universities’ failure to make improvements on pay, equality, casualisation and workloads, according to the UCU.
Meanwhile the staff at Sheffield Hallam, who are in a different pension scheme, will be taking action in the national pay, equality, casualisation and workload dispute.
They are also taking action in a dispute over changes to how work is allocated, which the UCU says has seen some members’ workloads increase by as much as 15 per cent.
The union has warned it would ballot members after the strikes if the disputes could not be resolved to ensure branches could take action until the end of the academic year.
As well as the walkouts, union members are undertaking ‘action short of a strike’ which involves working strictly to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and refusing to reschedule lectures lost to strike action.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “If universities want to avoid further disruption they need to deal with rising pension costs, and address the problems over pay and conditions.
“We have been clear from the outset that we would take serious and sustained industrial action if that was what was needed.”